October 30, 2017

Crapo, Risch, Bipartisan Western Senators Press White House to Extend Critical Lifeline Funding in Future Disaster Aid Request

Rural Communities Need Stable Funding to Keep Schools, Libraries and Roads Open and to Protect their Communities from Crime

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch joined a bipartisan group of western senators today in urging the White House and the White House budget office to fulfill the federal government’s promise to rural communities by extending a critical lifeline that funds road repairs, schools and law enforcement in rural communities in any future emergency disaster supplemental funding bill it sends to Congress. 

The senators pushed for a two-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination (SRS). SRS payments support public schools, public roads, forest health projects, emergency services and law enforcement in more than 700 counties across the country. 

The payments expired last year, leaving counties without certainty about how to fund these foundational services in rural areas. 

“We have seen firsthand the hardships rural counties face as a result of SRS authorization lapsing. Without the certainty of SRS payments, schools, libraries, and jails will close,” the senators wrote in a letter to Trump and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. “Roads go unpaved and become unsafe. Mental and physical health services are scaled back or even ended. Fewer and fewer law enforcement officers are forced to patrol larger and larger areas. 

“In the interest of working together in a bipartisan way to support local rural communities, we ask that you and Director Mulvaney work with the Congress to include a reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools in any emergency disaster funding legislation,” they wrote. 

The lack of certainty about SRS funding comes at a time when rural communities in the West are also being hit by record-breaking fire seasons that have been exacerbated by the federal government’s broken system of wildfire funding. 

In addition to Crapo and Risch, the other senators who signed the letter are Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Patty Murray, D-Wash. 

In May, a bipartisan group of senators, including Crapo and Risch, introduced legislation to extend the SRS program for two years. Senate cosponsors include: Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Wyden, D-Ore., Feinstein, D-Calif., Heinrich, D-N.M., Merkley, D-Ore., Daines, R-MT., Tester, D-MT., Cantwell, D-WA., Udall, D-N.M., Murray, D-Wash., Murkowski, R-Alaska, Manchin III, D-W.V., Gardner, R-Colo., Sullivan, R-Alaska, Bennet, D-Colo., Baldwin, D-Wis., Boozman, R-Ark., Capito, R-W.V.,  Franken, D-Minn., Heller, R-Nev., McCaskill, D-Mo., Rounds, R-S.D., and Sanders, I-Vt.

 Read today’s letter here.

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